Pleasant Monday with highs in the low 70s

Confirmation hearings delayed for two high-profile cabinet nominees

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WASHINGTON – Senate Republican leaders agreed to postpone two high-profile confirmation hearings scheduled for Wednesday for cabinet nominees of President-elect Donald Trump.

The moves — one announced late Monday and the second early Tuesday — came in response to Democratic complaints that too many hearings for key nominees were planned for that day.

Senate aides confirmed that the confirmation hearings for Education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos will now take place next week and the hearings for CIA director nominee Rep Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas will take place this Thursday.

Democrats were concerned senators and the public would not be able to digest the testimony for the six hearings that were planned for Wednesday, which is also the day Trump is doing his first news conference in several months to talk about how he is separating himself from his business interests.

The Wednesday hearings are now pared down to four: Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson will appear before the Foreign Relations Committee, the second day of testimony before the Judiciary Committee for the confirmation of Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions, of Alabama; the second day of testimony as well for retired Gen. John Kelly, Trump’s choice to head the Department of Homeland Security; and a hearing before the Senate transportation committee for Elaine Chao to be secretary of transportation.

Party leaders in recent days have conducted intensive negotiations over the schedules for the hearings. Democrats also have been upset that all of Trump’s picks haven’t turned over all their background information, including ethics agreements with the government to ensure they avoid financial conflicts of interest in their new posts.

Republicans have agreed to the changes in part because they are hoping to confirm multiple cabinet nominees in the hours after Trump is sworn-in January 20.

Democrats have said they are likely to be more cooperative on that front — and not employ procedural delaying tactics — if Republicans meet their wishes on the schedules for hearings.

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer of New York praised the changed schedule in a statement Tuesday.

“We’ve gone from six hearings to three on Wednesday, and that’s good progress,” Schumer said. “This is a good first step but there is more road to travel.”